Guest Column | August 14, 2014

5 Reasons Access Control Is Moving Toward IT

By Michael Pilato, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Viscount Systems

Access Control Is Moving Toward IT

Much like other security devices, access control technology has evolved greatly over the last several years. Traditional access control was much like traditional surveillance technology: independent, “dumb” devices performed a single task — sometimes, not very reliably — and were unable to communicate to any other device.

Today, leading-edge surveillance cameras and access control devices have gone IP. Thanks to Internet connectivity, access control readers and other devices are able to communicate to each other and to a customer’s broader security network, which helps end users improve overall security, situation awareness, and incident response.

As the evolution of access control continues, a growing number of end users are beginning to see the appeal of an IT-centric access control system. Under this approach, the system leverages the power of the IT infrastructure to control access points through encryption bridges that transform card readers into IP-addressable devices. The entire system is managed through a web-based user interface.

This design eliminates the need for traditional access control panels, which provides several benefits to the end user, each of which illustrates why access control is evolving into an IT software solution:

  1. Reduced network complexity. Doing away with traditional access control panels simplifies the system architecture, because an IT-centric system uses a much simpler network. This leads to faster, more efficient installs, and simplifies network maintenance and troubleshooting for years to come.
     
  2. Lower deployment costs. Eliminating access control panels facility-wide can save a single customer thousands, or even tens of thousands, in upfront hardware costs. The entire project requires less time to design, plan and execute, so the end user also realizes lower installation costs.  
     
  3. Greater scalability. This type of access control system efficiently scales as a customer’s needs change. New facilities or individual doors can be added to the network by simply installing new card readers and encryption bridges and plugging them into the IP network. This makes an IT-based access control system ideal for smaller users who require a cost-effective solution that can be easily expanded in the future.

    In addition, adding an extra door or new building to the access control network costs less with an IT-centric approach. This enables end users to expand their system as needed —rather than when budgets allow.
     
  4. Remote access. Essentially, the system becomes a group of IP-addressable card readers and end users can remotely access information on specific entry/exit events, system health, and more, from a web-enabled device. The system also enables operators to quickly and easily lock or unlock certain buildings as needed, which is vital in an emergency situation or during off hours. 
     
  5. Increased flexibility. Since an IT-centric access control system does away with legacy hardware requirements, end users can take advantage of full access to network-based capabilities — both at the time of install and into the future — to customize their entire security system to their exact needs. And thanks to an open infrastructure and a software-centric approach to security management, end users are able to quickly and easily make changes and improvements to their processes as needed.

As a growing number of security platforms become increasingly integrated with IT, end users are beginning to realize the benefits of simplified, scalable IP systems. The world of access control is a natural fit for an IT-centric approach, and customers of all sizes stand to save time and money, improve their processes, and maximize their facility’s security by saying goodbye to the traditional access control panel.